I learned to read at a later age than most. For me that came around 8 years old, when I picked up basic books and began to understand the core concepts of reading from my mother. At 9 I was fully in it, so to speak, and reading books on my own. I have vivid memories of reading books under the sheets at night with a flashlight, staying up hours past my bedtime, wanting to just read one more page. That desire, to see where the story would go, along with a voracious appetitive to learn more, continued on for a period.
At one point my brother got a hold of a large volume of Mark Twain’s published writings, all bound in a single book. By memory, and of course that’s a faulty thing to trust. The book was around 2,000 pages. Once my brother finished with it, I picked up the task and devoured the book. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court was one such tale that stuck in my mind and inspired a similar book of my own decades later.
That desire to read continued. My mom found some reading software for elementary kids, and we bought it for our family computer. I spent countless hours clicking through the pages, reading tales of The Jungle Book, Little Women, and dozens more that escape me now. Those stories of wonder captured me; allowing a young kid to get lost in the worlds of someone else’s imagination.
Then something happened. It’s not that I stopped reading, but the habits of consuming information changed. Much of my reading got taken up by school work demands; things that I could find some interest in, but not the same level of joy. With few exceptions, The Hatchet being one; I didn’t enjoy reading something as a requirement. The moment I was told to consume something, I no longer wanted to do that; at the same time my brothers and I tinkered with the computer. At some point we understood the possibilities it offered and explored the world of America Online (I feel old). Once we realized we could get games, and explore the internet, the joy of reading took a back seat. There were, however, e a few standout examples of books that still held sway in my early teenage years; such as the many late nights reading Lord of the Rings under the covers.
Fast forward into my early twenties, and something shifted again. I was diving into my career, trying to understand the needs of building software, all that comes with it. My primary work, designing websites and software, required many hours of computer time, with a butt in the seat moving pixels on a screen. While my eyes and mouse stayed busy in building designs, my mind would often wander. That provided a place for something to fill the gap. At that time I discovered Audible. Growing up, we’d occasionally grab Books on Tape from the library; but the format didn’t have the same appeal anymore. Audible though, that recaptured my imagination. I started to grab books, mostly business or self-help, and poured through them. From there it was a natural expansion into biographies and history books; at some point I also made the shift back into fiction. Over the next decade I often found time to listen to a great book, and in many cases podcasts, while also working.
Now, at 33 years old, I’ve come full circle. There’s been, as with anything, some ebbs and flows, but on the whole I’m enjoying reading. My habit is costly, but fun. Sometimes offsetting with library holds helps, but more often than not I’m too excited and want to buy it right away, without waiting.
There’s a realization that struck me a few years back; namely that I cannot read all that I want to read in this lifetime, it’s just not possible. Instead, I have to be selective and put the time into books that matter to me. Sometimes those are religious books, other times self-help or business, other times great biographies or histories, or one of the many fiction categories I’ve grown to love. I have to content myself with knowing that the things I want to read will always be greater than the things I have read. It’s with that knowledge that I still buy more books than I can handle.
You could say I’ve reached a place of acceptance, where I’m aware of that limitation, but find joy in the possible, in what I might read, could read.
That then, has evolved into a hobby I’ve been pursuing since 2019; trying to write the stories I want to read. This trip is new to me, and requires so much learning in every possible way, but at the end of the day I like to sit down and make characters do things that are fun and interesting, and hopefully surprising.
Books represent so much possibility. Often it can be the culmination of countless hours, or years, of thought and effort poured into a particular topic; that then becomes available for any of us to open and read.
Reading is a verb I like to apply to any form of books; audio, ebook, or physical copies. I don’t distinguish much, and personally I spend about 90% of my reading time through audio formats.
And so it continues. I look forward to seeing what types of adventures I can find for the coming years, what books pull me in and take me to new places, and what stories I can write to do the same for others. This reading thing is such a wonder, and I sometimes wonder if my delayed entry into the practice, starting my reading at 8 years old, helped to propel me forward. By the time I could read, I wanted nothing more than to do just that.